The Washington Huskies had not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011. The program which had enjoyed several fruitful years under Lorenzo Romar but then fell on hard times was revived by Mike Hopkins. Would the revival lead to an NCAA Tournament win? The Huskies answered that question authoritatively on Friday, pulling away late to dismiss the Utah State Aggies in an 8-9 game in Columbus, Ohio.
Washington’s upward trajectory was affirmed, and more than that, the Huskies showed to all who doubted them that their quality — as Pac-12 regular-season champions — was worthy of March Madness. Washington defeated only once NCAA Tournament team (Oregon) before arriving in the field of 68.
Now the Huskies have beaten two NCAA Tournament teams. This was a significant statement made by Hopkins and his players.
“It’s a feeling you never want to give away,” Mike Hopkins said. “And so this elevates where we want to be.”
Hopkins has spent many NCAA Tournament games at Jim Boeheim’s side at Syracuse. This was his first as a head coach. It meant many different things to the man who spent two decades in the shadows and is now the face of a program, taking it even more centrally into the March spotlight.
“Do you see my hairline? I lost a lot of real estate the last two years and a lot of sleep,” Mike Hopkins said. “But you know what, listen, I’ve dreamt my whole life of being in this position. When you dream it and you get an opportunity, it’s special, I can’t lie to you.”
You can listen to and subscribe to the CBB Today Podcast on iTunes right here.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our college basketball, NCAA Tournament and NBA Draft email newsletter below. It’s the only way to survive the impending alien invasion.